Horses as Healers

How our work saving horses helps people

In summer 2017 we ran our GROOM2GROW equine facilitated learning programme in conjunction with an NHS Trust to support people with mental health problems. The outcomes are currently being evaluated by the Trust and include improvements in cognitive skills, communication, self-esteem, confidence and team working.

University of Essex studies demonstrate how the human heart rate lowers to match the slower heart rate of the horse during stroking and grooming.

Evidence already tells us that equine "therapy" can help:

  • People with dementia, depression or other mental health illness
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People who are terminally ill or disabled
  • People with autism
  • Children who have been bullied
  • Ex-military personnel with post traumatic stress disorder

Working with rescued horses is helping disenchanted and disadvantaged people who are lacking confidence and/or have low self-esteem. Engagement with our wellbeing programme can produce really positive outcomes for people with these issues .

As the human shows care and attention in basic ways i.e. grooming the horse, in time the horse learns to trust and give back a reflected level of care and attention. Over time this process builds a special understanding, trust and bond.

Where else in a working environment is someone like Thomas going to be repaid in this way for his labours? Not in an office, shop, factory or working as a tradesman….only by working with animals. The sanctuary has provided him with a direction for his career path, not just a few days work experience. He discovered his quiet, calm and gentle demeanour is perfectly suited to horses and their care. He’s found something he can do, after thinking and believing he had little to offer and few work opportunities. Now he’s keen to work in stables with horses.

A sad and common story according to the Prince’s Trust is 1 in 10 young people are like Thomas believing they have no future. Thanks to the Sanctuary and the rescued horses, there is a happy ending for Thomas.

Our long-term future will depend on blending the wellbeing of our animals and supporting vulnerable people. This will enable the charity to secure funding that is not available to us operating solely as a horse sanctuary.

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